Democrats seek challenger for Sen. Dan Stec, but no one yet

By Maury Thompson, Special to The Chronicle

Democrats hope to find a challenger for Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, although no one has emerged with five weeks before nominating petition process begins.

“What we need is for a candidate to step forward,” said Washington County Democratic Chairman Alan Stern.

Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Boecher said Sen. Stec “continues to drive a noticeable wedge with his opposition to Gov. Hochul.”

Warren County Republican Chairman Tim McNulty said Sen. Stec’s criticism of Gov. Hochul is warranted.

“Any discussion about him as far as Kathy Hochul is concerned is because of her far-left politics,” he said.

Sen. Stec did not return voicemail messages seeking comment.

Mr. Stec easily won re-election in 2022 to a second, two-year term with about 60% of the vote, against Democrat challenger Jean Lapper, an accountant and small business adviser from Queensbury.

Ms. Lapper made abortion rights the major issue in her campaign platform.

The Republican party has increased its enrollment advantage since then.

Republican enrollment gained by 252 voters between Nov. 1, 2022 and Nov. 1, 2023, the most recent statistics available, according to the state Board of Elections.

Active Democratic enrollment fell by 1,048 voters, from 32.4% to 31.9%.

Mrs. Boecher says the race will be more competitive if the political arm of Senate Democrats pumps money into it. She says, “He’s certainly a Senator who is vulnerable, as far as the Senate Democrats are concerned. They’d like to see an opponent to build on their majority.”

Mr. McNulty said he is confident Mr. Stec will be re-elected regardless of how much money Democrats spend. “I am sure he will welcome an opponent, and he will stand on his record,” he said.

Mrs. Boecher said a challenger is more likely to surface in the northern portion of the 45th Senate District, which includes Warren, Washington, Essex, Clinton, Franklin and a portion of Saint Lawrence counties.

Catalfamo vs. Woerner, round three?

In the 113th Assembly District, Republican David Catalfamo, a communications consultant from Wilton who lost to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, in 2020 and 2022, said he is considering challenging her again.

“I’m still looking at it and have not heard of anyone else” eyeing the race),” Mr. Catalfamo said.

Assemblywoman Woerner said she will focus on her legislative and community advocacy, like legislation she championed in 2022 to stimulate the textile industry. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received a $10 million state grant for textile initiatives in the region, including establishing a fiber warehouse in Washington County.

“I’ll be talking to voters about what I have accomplished in office,” said the five-term Assemblywoman.

She said will will introduce a bipartisan package of legislation to increase options for dental care for Medicaid recipients in rural areas.

The 113th Assembly District includes most of Saratoga County, Glens Falls in Warren County, the town of Fort Edward, outside the village, and the town and village of Greenwich in Washington County.

Simpson, Ashby unopposed so far

In the 114th Assembly District, local Democratic leaders say no challenger has emerged to two-term Republican incumbent Matt Simpson of Horicon.

He ran unopposed in 2022.

In the 43rd Senate District, no Democratic candidate has yet surfaced to challenge Sen. Jake Ashby, R-Castleton.

Sen. Ashby, a former Assemblyman, won election to the Senate over Democrat Andrea Smyth in 2022, despite a Democratic enrollment advantage in the district, which includes Fort Edward south to the Rensselaer County line in Washington County, all of Rensselaer County, and a portion of Albany County.

“He’s (Ashby) a strong candidate,” said Washington County Democratic chairman Mr. Stern. “I don’t know if anyone (from the Democratic party) will run.

Ashby said his campaign will focus on bipartisanship and public safety.

“I think if you look at our track record, we have done a good job of bipartisanship,” he said.

Ashby said one of his priorities this year is legislation he introduced in July to crack down on serial shoplifters. The legislation — S7599 — would make anyone convicted of petit larceny twice within a three-month period or three times within a 12-month period subject to the weightier crime of grand larceny.

In the 44th Senate District, Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner and Skidmore College business professor Minita Sanghvi, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville. The district includes all of Saratoga County, the city of Schenectady and town of Niskayuna in Schenectady County.

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